RBNZ’s Conway: Softer GDP and CPI data doesn't mean the central bank will cut interest rates


The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) Chief Economist Paul Conway said on Tuesday that  the downward revisions to economic activity data does not mean less inflation pressure in the economy.

Key quotes

“Lower GDP indicates weaker demand, but also that the productive capacity of the economy was lower than previously assumed. That is, the recent GDP revisions do not necessarily mean that capacity pressures in the economy are much lower than previously assumed.”

“To sum up, monetary policy is working, with the economy slowing and inflation falling. But we still have a way to go to get inflation back to the target midpoint [of 2%].” 

“I'm being very careful here, I'm not going to give away anything about the future path of the OCR.”

Market reaction

The NZD/USD pair is trading higher by 0.01% on the day to trade at 0.6134, as of writing.

RBNZ FAQs

What is the Reserve Bank of New Zealand?

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) is the country’s central bank. Its economic objectives are achieving and maintaining price stability – achieved when inflation, measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), falls within the band of between 1% and 3% – and supporting maximum sustainable employment.

How does the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s monetary policy influence the New Zealand Dollar?

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s (RBNZ) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decides the appropriate level of the Official Cash Rate (OCR) according to its objectives. When inflation is above target, the bank will attempt to tame it by raising its key OCR, making it more expensive for households and businesses to borrow money and thus cooling the economy. Higher interest rates are generally positive for the New Zealand Dollar (NZD) as they lead to higher yields, making the country a more attractive place for investors. On the contrary, lower interest rates tend to weaken NZD.

Why does the Reserve Bank of New Zealand care about employment?

Employment is important for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) because a tight labor market can fuel inflation. The RBNZ’s goal of “maximum sustainable employment” is defined as the highest use of labor resources that can be sustained over time without creating an acceleration in inflation. “When employment is at its maximum sustainable level, there will be low and stable inflation. However, if employment is above the maximum sustainable level for too long, it will eventually cause prices to rise more and more quickly, requiring the MPC to raise interest rates to keep inflation under control,” the bank says.

What is Quantitative Easing (QE)?

In extreme situations, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) can enact a monetary policy tool called Quantitative Easing. QE is the process by which the RBNZ prints local currency and uses it to buy assets – usually government or corporate bonds – from banks and other financial institutions with the aim to increase the domestic money supply and spur economic activity. QE usually results in a weaker New Zealand Dollar (NZD). QE is a last resort when simply lowering interest rates is unlikely to achieve the objectives of the central bank. The RBNZ used it during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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